I was doing secretarial work for four editors across the company; none of them could type. They were working on the fiction, drama, poetry, and art lists. Postcards would come in from Beckett, or letters from William Golding and Tom Stoppard. I was in heaven.
- Guernica: What is the best word to describe you?
- Maria Teresa Horta: Insubordination.
- Guernica: Why this word?
- Maria Teresa Horta: Because, on the one hand, I was born insubordinate and, on the other, because I’ve always been a symbol of change in Portugal.
In 1996, a federal court in Fort Worth found Jackson guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of an unregistered firearm.
Jackson, from the rural North Texas town of Boyd, needed thousands of dollars to pay for his critically ill son’s monthly medical expenses. Transporting meth seemed the only way to do it. He thought he had known all the risks involved but he hadn’t. He didn’t know he’d get busted. He didn’t know he would stand in the courtroom of a judge who would show him no mercy. He didn’t know the man who supplied the meth, a man Jackson had known for much of his life and considered a friend, would turn on him. And he didn’t know that his wife would be left without a husband and his children without a father.
Have you read our new issue yet? Featuring nonfiction from J. Malcolm Garcia, interviews with Fiona McCrae, Barbara Hamby, and Maria Teresa Horta, poetry from Anna Rose Welch and Tatiana Oroño, fiction by Jean McGarry and Ernesto Seman, and an interview with artist Madeleine Hunt Ehrlich.
Read it here.
My favorite photo of Caleb and me is a self-portrait taken on a beach at Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast. We had hiked down a steep trail, stopping to lunch on smoked salmon and bagels, and ended up on a beach. The tide was low, and sand dollars dotted the shore. We scooped them up like prizes. We ran into the surf. We hugged. In the photo, we are both smiling, our heads pressed together.
When I look at that photo now, I wonder, “Where are those people? Where did they go?”
Just to the right of us was a cave. I had wanted to go in it, but the tide was coming in, and I was afraid of getting trapped and drowning.
During Korea’s winter auctions, two houses sold off hundreds of artworks that belonged to the family of the former South Korean leader Chun Doo Hwan. The pieces were among six hundred works of art seized by the state, and most of the money proceeding from the sale—some $6.7 million USD—will go into state coffers. Chun had been sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the Gwangju massacre and the small fortune he had amassed through taking bribes during his contentious rule, but he was set free on the provision that he pay a massive fine. Chun’s groundless claims of poverty, and the uncollected $156 million in damages, were what finally prompted officials to confiscate his vast collection.
Chun’s story is one of many in which an authoritarian ruler hoards both power and art. Dictators past and present have cultivated valuable collections as a means of demonstrating their reach, in addition to their ability to pillage private and public property. Their preferences may display taste and sophistication, and many collect singular artists and commission portraits from renowned painters. These acquisitions, much like the solipsistic monuments they erect, are commemorative displays, efforts to situate themselves in memory.
In a bold critique of this impulse, Albanian artist Anila Rubiku etched the portraits of twelve dictators and their henchmen, only to erase them. The accompanying video shows the violent efforts this requires of the artist: drypoint indentations are close to impossible to erase, much like the impact of these dictators on the lives of those they ruled over. Rubiku lived through the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, the Communist leader of Albania from 1944 until his death in 1985; his portrait is the last she scrubs away. In this way, she uses art to dismantle the power these men hold through images and memory. The very art they wanted to be remembered through becomes a means with which to exact revenge and efface them.
Effacing Memory is composed of Rubiku’s portraits and the video documenting the process of their erasure. Rubiku’s artistic practice includes drawing, embroidery, video, and installations that address issues of gender, architecture, memory, and history. She has created a unique hybrid, incorporating artisans and communities into projects that combine tradition and art, local history, and a contemporary perspective. Born in Albania in 1970, today she lives and works in Milan and Tirana.
—Eriola Pira for Guernica
"Lore has it that audience members panicked when the life-sized locomotive came throttling toward them on the screen of the 1896 Lumiere brothers’ film The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station. But in 2013, audiences remain placid as they watch a tank barreling through the narrow street of a ravaged Syrian city. Casual observers of a reality recorded anonymously on cell phones and iPads, they witness the war over social media.
"However disparate these images may seem, they come together in the work of Czech artist Tomáš Svoboda. In Filmu uz se nebojim, or Not Afraid of Film Anymore, sequences from both the Lumieres’ famous early work and from the contemporary, unnamed video from Syria form the basis of an installation mounted at Jeleni Gallery in Prague this past November.”
Grant me the number of wishes you wished on yourself
Hold me like an in-law raving after Secret Santa for
everything that gets away
Kiss me when you’re done kissing yourself with your
dark gray lips, your coral teeth
I can’t get my skull around these midnight whimpers
I can’t help but play your games like an American fall
folds its own flag
"What was transformative was being at the inauguration, reading my poem, and realizing that the quest for home and identity had always been part of my work, but that I’d been home all along. I understood that my story, my mother’s story, the story of those hundreds of thousands of people up there, is America. I had the dawning of a new connection with America, a new love affair. Not a blind patriotism, but just an understanding that it is part of who I am."
The wind howled and pushed against the glass of the windows. The world outside was pitch-black with faint starlight. I lit a cigarette and asked myself how I could change to keep loving her.